Sometimes, during a Punch and Judy show, you will spot part of the pupeeter’s wrist. It will appear below Mr Punch’s tunic, or underneath the crocodile. The sausages may brush against the skin.
You might sigh inwardly, and think that the puppeteer is not very good. This is not the case. No human puppeteer has ever made such an amateur mistake. This is after all, their job.
What it means is that you have found a True Punch and Judy man.
They are fully organic from top to toe. The red and yellow stripes of the booth are thick and leathery reptilian skin. The puppets are its eyes, switching from two to four when Judy or the Policeman arrives. And that fleshy lump, so similar to a wrist, is the proboscis on which they sit.
You may not believe me. So I ask you to imagine this scenario. If a little kid stood up during the show, and tried to peer into the booth, you would stop him. Although surely his mum would get there first.
This is not just politeness, or to stop this brat ruining the magical illusion. This is instinct from the same path as the fear of spiders, snakes, lions and tigers. As any history bore will tell you, the Punch and Judy show goes back generations. It turns out it goes all the way back to those nights in the caves.
Because if the boy did run over, put his hand on the bony cartilage of the stage and look deep into the innards of the True Punch and Judy Man, he would see something from the last days of the Cretaceous period. The smell of rotting kidneys and raw meat would make his eyes water, and through the film of tears he would see teeth and veins, and the limp multicoloured nodules of puppets mouthing squeaks and grunts and groans.
So do not be disappointed if you see that flash of wrist. Be thankful you are not in the front row, so you can keep your children well back, and enjoy the show.